Top of the Charts

What’s your favourite knitting tool or gadget?

This a tough question for me.  I love many knitting gadgets and tools, from the everyday things like my favourite needles, to the more occasionally used (but still helpful) yarn swift and ball winder.

But what makes my life much easier?  Which of those things would I hate to be without?  Well I wouldn’t want to be without my Addi needles, but what can I tell you about those without being dull?  Not much.  So I’ve decided to tell you all about the thing I would hate to design without:

Stitch Mastery Knitting Chart Editor by Cathy Scott

This amazing software allows you to make beautiful, clear, professional looking pattern charts with ease.  (Before we go any further I should say that I have not received any inducements, incentives or free things to write this – I bought this software myself, and use it all the time, so this is an unbiased view.  If I didn’t like it I would say so.)

You can make very simple charts, like the one below using just knit and purl stitches, right up to big complicated charts (for example the large charts I drew for Cleome were created in Stitch Mastery and used some unusual stitches that the software coped with very well).

Knit and purl chart

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The charts are really quick to do.  This one took me just two minutes, and it is very easy to alter them as well.  You can either undo your previous actions (you can even do this multiple times), or paint over the stitch you have chosen with another one (e.g. replace knit with purl or vice versa).

Colour + stitches chart

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

It’s also really easy to add colours to your chart, even when that square already contains a stitch (very handy for shaping when knitting fairisle).  There are several default colours provided but you can also create custom colours to match the colour of your yarn.

A key is automatically created, and every new stitch that you add to your chart appears in it.  You can edit the key descriptions, and delete entries to the key if you change your mind, as well as change the key font or text size.

Chart pattern repeats

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

You can also add pattern repeats by selecting the cells you want to be repeated.  Then you can add a border and a name or instruction to the pattern repeat.

Not only can you chart simple knit and purl patterns and colourwork, but also cables:

Charted cables

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

and lace:

Charted lace

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

There are a huge number of different stitch symbols to choose from, but you can also create custom stitches if you can’t find the one you want.

Even better, when you’ve finished your chart you can export it to a PDF or an image file such as JPEG or PNG, so it’s easy to share your chart of insert it into a pattern.

I don’t know where I would be without it.

The charts are so quick to do that I make one before I knit a swatch of a new design idea, save it as a PDF and print it out (it’s quicker than graph paper).  Then I can alter it as I go along and this approach also has the advantage of weeding out any impossible stitches before I commit yarn to needles.

If you want to make charts in Excel or similar software, Cathy Scott has also made her knitting chart font available to buy separately and there is a free demo version of Knitting Chart Editor that you can download here as well as a video showing some of the features.

Now, I know there are some of you who are by this point thinking that you hate charts with a passion and avoid any pattern that has them in.  That’s ok, I’m just a person who finds visualising things helpful, but everyone is different.  That’s why despite my love of charts, I always try to include alternative written instructions in my patterns, in case charts are not for you.

That way, everyone is happy :).

Lottie x

11 thoughts on “Top of the Charts

  1. An interesting post for me as I met Cathy last year in Shetland at the annual wool week in the island of Unst and she passed on the details of her software which she offered to send me but I have so far not taken up her offer – but from reading your interesting comments it does make me wonder if I should give it a go with some of the items which I knit in Fair Isle patterns that are popular designs. Thank you!

  2. thanks for this Lottie – I have just been asking the question on facebook and ravelry about which package to buy. Lots of people have mentioned this one, but its good to hear its a worthwhile purchase from someone I trust and know!

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